madisha anc poser

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

Willy Madisha is not Cosatu and Cosatu is not Madisha and therefore his downfall might not spell the end of the federation.

While Cosatu leadership might be marvelling at having finally removed him as its president or participated in the drive to purge from its ranks all those they perceived to have supported Thabo Mbeki in the ANC presidential race, the federation's action could hit the ANC below the belt in the long run.

Madisha was expelled from Cosatu last week for bringing the organisation's name into disrepute after publicly claiming that he gave R500000 in cash to SACP chief Blade Nzimande which was a donation to the party from Charles Modise.

But Madisha says his removal is related to his initiating a probe into the alleged misuse of the Cosatu credit card by general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi.

Vavi initially denied the allegations but subsequently paid back the money. But according to Madisha, Vavi never forgave him for that.

Madisha should have himself to blame for not having explained what really happened regarding both the credit card and the missing half-a-million rand. He preferred to keep quiet all along, hoping that Vavi and Nzimande would have mercy on him for observing protocol. He was mistaken, he was already lined up in the way of the grinding wheel to be crushed.

His silence was not going to pay and neither was his observing protocol to say he would keep the matter within the alliance. Where is he now?

The matter has been deliberately handled in such a way to make him look the guilty party. In the eyes of many members of the public, he is the suspect in the theft of the R500000 meant for the SACP.

His own comrades, knowing the power of media and how it can shape public opinion, even questioned why the money was kept in Madisha's car boot instead of going to the party treasury. Many in Cosatu believe that Madisha had unfairly accused Vavi of something he did not do, hence they did not question why he paid it back.

Those who had been shifting the blame towards Madisha are now calling for perjury charges to be pressed against him.

Madisha has his own followers, comrades and friends. It is given that not all in Sadtu, of which he is president, support his removal from Cosatu nor his suspension from Sadtu. Judging by contradictory views from Sadtu grassroots and the union leadership, not all are in favour of his expulsion.

It is clear that some top leaders, who are closer to Cosatu and SACP top brass, are happy to see him out while many ordinary members are comfortable with his leadership.

Trying to frustrate Madisha might inadvertently frustrate many people within the tripartite alliance, the trade union movement, the ANC and his home province of Limpopo. Madisha's marginalisation, when added to the threatened Cosatu action against Silumko Nondwangu, the Numsa general secretary, could bring instability within the labour movement as the unions may not take it lying down.

With the advent of the new ANC leadership, many ANC members are being pushed aside as part of injecting a leftist hegemony in our politics. Clear victims of this purge are Madisha and Nondwangu.

The intended consequences of Madisha's sidelining would be felt by the ANC, the leader of the tripartite alliance. The Cosatu action might hit the ANC where it hurts most in elections.

There are many voters who expressed doubts about putting their Xs next to the ANC on the ballot box in future. They argue that voting for the ANC will result in certain leaders they do not want being voted into power - the anomaly of the proportional representation voting system.

In this system, if you vote for a party you are indirectly voting for an individual you might not like because it is up to that party to put whoever it likes on the parliamentary lists.

In other words, even those who a voter might have moral, political or any other reasons to oppose, may find their way on the party list. So Madisha's followers and those currently being purged and their allies could be interested in voting with their feet, to make a statement.

But, the ANC is still on the advantageous slope. The lack of political alternative has allowed the party to use and abuse the gap.

The existing parliamentary opposition is weak and too splintered. None of the major black political parties in the black consciousness movement and the pan Africanist movement pose any serious political threat to the mighty ANC.

Political analyst at Wits University, Susan Booysen, said Madisha's removal will surely affect relations among leaders within the labour movement and the alliance.

"Madisha is one of the powerful leaders within the alliance and his removal will inevitably have an impact. But we don't know yet what is going to be the reaction to his removal, we don't know whether there will be closing of ranks against him within Cosatu," said Booysen.

She said as Cosatu plays a major role within the ANC and its current leadership transition, the Madisha issue will have an impact on ANC politics.

Political lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Zakhele Ndlovu, said Madisha became unpopular within the labour movement after he was associated with the Mbeki camp. He said the fact that there was no immediate reaction after his removal could be an indication that the workers approve of Cosatu's action against him.